India has the second largest population in the world with about 1.2 billion people. That’s approximately 17 percent of the world’s population. With so many people it’s not surprising that India is the fastest growing smartphone market, according to Gartner, Inc. In fact, the last quarter of 2013, Gartner reports that the India smartphone market increased by 166.8 percent, the highest growth rate compared to any other market in the world. For these reasons this is why the former CEO of Apple, John Sculley, decided India would be the first market to release a new series of smartphones under the brand name called Obi.
Sculley was the CEO of Apple for ten years from 1983 to 1993. He was also the President of PepsiCo for six years from 1970 to 1977. He certainly has a successful track record having been the chief of two of the world’s largest corporations. He now heads up a technology investment firm called Inflexionpoint based in Singapore that will be releasing the Obi smartphone series.
Inflexionpoint is reportedly planning to release a series of mid market smartphones under the brand Obi in the India market to start. Other markets will follow in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia Pacific markets. Inflexionpoint has been acquiring companies to complete its ecosystem for the new Obi series of smartphones. Inflexionpoint subsidiary Iris Computers will be the distributor using its branches and relationships with in-country mobile operators. Another subsidiary Singapore Dragon Technology will handle the manufacturing of the smartphones out of China.
Obi smartphones will be competing for marketshare in India with several other manufacturers. Samsung has the most smartphone marketshare in India with 38% of the market. Samsung also predicts smartphone sales to double in the current year up to 80 million smartphone sales in India. The second and third largest marketshare positions belong to Micromax and Karbonn with 16 percent and 10 percent respectively. After that is Sony with 5 percent market share and Lava with 4.7 percent market share.
It’s expected that the Obi series of smartphones will be targeting the mid market with smartphone price in the range of 10,000 Indian Rupee’s, which is roughly £100 GBP. At this range Obi should be competitive against Samsung, Micromax and Karbonn.
With John Sculley leading Inflexionpoint we should expect big things from Obi in India and possibly future other markets soon after. While Sculley was not the chief at Apple when the iPhone was released; however, sales did increase from $800 million USD to $8 billion USD when he was CEO at Apple. Likewise, when he was President at PepsiCo the famous “Pepsi Challenge” was one of his well-known marketing promotions. This was the famous test where two undistinguishable cups would contain Pepsi and Coca-Cola and a person would take a drink from both then decide which one they preferred without knowing which cup contained which cola.
Next month we will see how Obi does with its first release in India. With a distributor company in place and another company handling the manufacturing in China they are heading in the right direction. If they can build strong relationships with the primary mobile operators in India, who are Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular, BSNL, Aircel and Uninor, they’ll have all the makings to capture smartphone marketshare in India.